Accounting for a Changing World was the theme of the South African Accounting Association (SAAA) KwaZulu-Natal Regional Teaching and Learning Conference 2018 hosted by UKZN at the Riverside Hotel in Durban.
The conference, sponsored by the Auditor General-South Africa and LexisNexis Group, a corporation providing computer-assisted legal research as well as business research and risk management services, provided a platform for participants involved in various accountancy professions to contribute towards regional accounting research in line with the SAAA’s vision of promoting excellence in higher education accountancy research in southern Africa.
‘The conference theme was very relevant given the recent focus on the accountancy profession,’ said SAAA KZN President and UKZN Taxation lecturer, Ms Zamanguni Gumede. ‘Our theme underpinned the need for collaboration and co-operation of dedicated individuals from different sectors in the economy; ensuring that the accountancy professions remains relevant in the midst of change. The forum provided an opportunity for the exploration of innovation in Accounting research,’ she said.
Keynote speaker, Professor Siphamandla Zondi, who is the Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Pretoria and Co-ordinator of the Institute for Strategic and Political Affairs, challenged delegates to contribute towards regaining the public’s trust in the Accounting profession.
‘Accounting is about counting figures and being accountable for those figures,’ he said. ‘As lecturers, we have to look at how we teach students so that we don’t just produce an accountant, but rather citizens who will better society. It is better to develop a human being who knows how to act justly and ethically rather than an accountant who will use skills gained to be a thief and rob the poor. So, the question I want to pose is this: ‘Can Accounting account for the state of the nation and its future today?’ The world is changing and Accounting has to lead that change,’ he said.
A total of 28 research papers were presented at the conference; six of which were international submissions. This was applauded by the Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Professor Mabutho Sibanda. ‘As accountants, we have to deliberate on issues and recent scandals affecting our profession such as the Steinhoff and KPMG scandals so that we can learn and promote the culture of ethical conduct. Times are changing and the profession now requires us to have master’s and PhD degrees so we thank this conference for the opportunity given to us to start contributing to the Accounting discourse in a good way,’ said Sibanda.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Albert Hirase